Law Enforcement and the Community

The general public and law enforcement agencies are two sides of the same coin. By this we mean that both entities work hand-in-hand to make the society a safe place to live. Compared to other organizations, the law enforcement community is subject to intense public scrutiny. As a result, it is incumbent on law enforcement officers to maintain high moral standards in their personal and professional lives.

A fish in a fishbowl

The life of a Law Enforcement (L.E) officer is open to the public so much that it resembles that of a fish in a fishbowl, whether they are on or off duty. This is because there is such high expectation of them to be perfect leaders and their lives are constantly being viewed under a microscope waiting to catch any mistakes they make. This career path is not an easy one and thus requires the support of the community they live in and a constant reminder that L.E officers are humans and do make mistakes.

Public perception about law enforcement

The police and the community working hand-in-hand to ensure security

The public’s perception of L.E officers is largely based on the community’s experience of these officers in individual communities in how they respond to situations when they arise. The public’s perception is very important in maintaining trust. It is quite unfortunate to periodically read stories about officers who get themselves involved in one scandal or another. Some of these scandals include bribery, corruption, excessive use of force, abuse of public office and authority. These cases and other examples of unethical behaviors negatively influence the public’s perception of law enforcement community. It’s sad to note that a single unprofessional act of an officer can have a widespread negative impact on the entire law enforcement community. For this reason, officers are therefore required to do their best to present the law enforcement profession as one that needs to be respected..

We encourage the L.E community to carry themselves with the uttermost professionalism by subscribing to the values and ethics guiding the profession.

Aside these negative cases, the majority of L.E officers are hardworking and very dedicated to serving and protecting the lives and property of the people under their jurisdiction. Unfortunately, these good stories of law enforcement never make the headlines, and when it does, it is for a short period.

Values and Ethics in Law Enforcement

In every society and organization, values and ethics are essential in achieving the aims and objectives and the law enforcement community is no exception. Individual officers might have their personal values but there are L.E values that every officer should adhere to. Ethics, on the other hand, is defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior. It can also be explained as doing the right thing at the right time, irrespective of the situation. In this case, the right thing is generally based on what the society upholds. Some of these values are:

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Hard work
  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Sympathy
  • Justice
  • Bravery
  • Team work

As a law enforcement officer, these values should be part of your daily interaction with the communities you serve. These values should inform your decision-making and your relationship with the general public.. By adhering to these values or principles, LE officers build the public trust. The public’s support of the operations of law enforcement officers is based on the level of trust they have. The public needs law enforcement to protect and serve the community while L.E officers need support and cooperation from the general public and this relationship can only be built on trust.

Lastly, L.E officers are encouraged to work as a team to compliment the efforts of each other.. The most powerful message can be conveyed when one leads by example which is an effective tool in improving public perception of the profession.


Post by Esther Afari . Esther is one of the Delegate/Alumni Coordinators at the West Africa Regional Training Center. Email her at